Sunday, December 31, 2006

edge of the world

More "atmospheric layering"...this time without the sea of fog, but with storm clouds looming over the Alps. This viewpoint for these photos is called "The Edge of the World" in German, and strangely enough, it really feels like it.


-Wishing you health, happiness and lots of inspiration in the coming year. See you in 2007!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

more above the fog photos

...because I just can't believe it! So cool...just standing above the fog layer in a different world. Doesn't it look like water? Crazy.

above the fog

Er, I really must remember to consider a more interesting pose next time...

just look at this! looking down at a sea of fog....literally! that's our city under there!! and the ahhh-alps in the background.

I really should post more Swiss nature photos, because it really is what's best about this place. The weather of course, is not perfect here...plenty of grey days. The nice thing, however, is that being a mountainous country, there is always a high point to escape to...just above the fog, where the sun is shining and the air is a few degrees warmer. We went up the Bözingenberg here in Bienne today. It's about 15 minutes from where we live. It was nasty and foggy, so we decided to go for a hike and look for some sun. We found it!

last christmas photos

Here are a few photos from the 2nd Christmas celebration at Matthias' family's home near Zurich.

He naturally prefers the plant eaters...

Alex getting a little something from Grandma....

And us, all toned-down and mild-mannered, as we always are in the presence of family here. "Switzerland, where the mild things are.":-)

Monday, December 25, 2006

merry christmas

2 dinosaurs (Iguanadon and Parasaurolophus)
2 games
2 puzzles
1 book
1 CD
and two ancient sharks (for which he has thanked Santa and the stars for numerous times today!)

Merry Christmas, everyone. Hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


The Grittibänz is traditional in Switzerland, and makes an appearance somewhere around the beginning of December. It is a soft, buttery dough in the shape of a cheeky little man with raisin eyes. A poem in his honor:

Chliini, grossi Grittibänz
u si hei es feisses Ränzli.
Siebe süessi Jaggechnöpfli,
dicki Arme, rundi Chöpfli,
chnuschper-bachni Hosebei .
E Grittibänz für mi elei.

in other words:
Little, big Grittibänz
they have a fat stomach
Seven sweet jacket buttons
chubby arms, a round little head
crispy baked trouser legs
a Grittibänz all for myself.

and for any prospective linguists, and to illustrate the point that Swiss German is really nothing like it's Germany-German high-German the first two lines would read:

Kleine, grosse Grittibänz
Sie haben einen dicken Bauch

need I say more? Anyway, tonight is Christmas eve. We are spending it at home, just the 3 of us. We're thinking of you all! Merry Christmas Eve! I hope Santa brings you what you wished for...

pre-christmas visit

So here we are, the day before Christmas Eve. A visit from Matthias' mom, aunt and grandmaman (who will be 90 this year and still lives in her 3 story townhouse!). Alex got to open a few early presents...some dinosaur books, some wooden people with a little sled and a backpack. Here he's dancing with Aunt Nelly.

Here is our humble Christmas tree, for which I managed to find candy canes for the first time ever!

And here's the little guy with his grandma and the new book he got. Why must he always make that silly fake smile when I take a photo? oh, dear.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Market

The Swiss really do know how to do Christmas. All the towns and villages are decorated and lit up, there are chestnuts roasting on the side of the road (Heissi Marroni), there is mulled wine being sipped (Glühwein). Traditional cookies are being shared...sugar cookies (Mailanderli), anise cookies (Aniskräbbeli), and my favorite cinnamon stars (Zimtsternli-which, incidentally, I have found a delicious raw recipe for!). The streets are lined with market stalls selling all sorts of stuff, from toasted hemp seeds to blown glass ornaments. It's been very warm up to now, so we're not expecting a white christmas. But you never know!

Alex can't wait to get his hands in some snow (which he says is his favorite, is this really my kid?). He got some new snow pants all we have to do is wait! In the meantime we'll be enjoying the tastes and smells of the season, in the unique and wonderful way that only the Germanic world knows how. Ahhh.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Alex has been obsessed with making gingerbread men ever since I read the fairy tale to him (you can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man!!). So we finally made some...3 dozen...lots of bowl licking and now lots of stomach aching, but they are charming and it's only once a year, right?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


You say you want a better photo of my man? Well here you go! Muscles bulging, leading us across the Lake of Lauerz, from which his entire clan originates. On holiday with Janelle and Mark 2 years ago. Two. Long. Years. Ago. Was very nice to have friends around...


Santa comes into play quite a bit earlier in the Swiss tradition. December 6th to be we had a very exciting visit at our home this evening! Santa comes and tells the child things that they've been doing well and whether they've been naughty or nice. They then get a bag of treats, containing mandarins, peanuts, gingerbread (Lebkuchen), and chocolates. Normally, Santa is accompanied by a nasty man called "Schmutzli" which means something like "dirty little man" and he takes care of the naughty kids. We skip that since we have an angelic child and because Schmutzli is just plain creepy. :-) Also, presents aren't brought by Santa on Christmas Eve in Switzerland, but by the "Christkindli" or the Christ Child (nevermind the logistics of that). We get around this at our place by explaining that Santa and his reindeer make an exception (and a big detour) to come twice a year to the homes of little American kids....both the 6th and 24th of December. Ah, speaking of Christmas, we are in the midst of a major prehistoric phase over here!! Anyone bearing gifts relating to dinosaurs, saber-tooths, or mammoths will be a bit hit with a certain blond 4 year old! Hint, hint...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

bienne old town

So I promised some photos of the "Altstadt/Vieille Ville" of Bienne, so here they are...taken this morning on our trip to the farmer's market. We're lucky to have one of the best outdoor markets in Switzerland. Bern has a famous one but it's very commercial. The one here feels really "real" with lots of stands run by little old ladies who pluck each raspberry they sell with their own hands. I love that the market is nestled into the medieval part of town. Some of these houses are insanely old and some aren't so old at all but look that way.

Can you find my boys in one of these photos?

Friday, November 24, 2006


Brown bear, brown bear...what do you see?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

kid's day, Bern

We stumbled into Bern today to get the laptop repaired (er, my fault!) and the city was full of activities for little kids! There was the ultra-high-tech leave-raking area, and racing like-a-bikes around cones. Alex was into watching everything, but had no interest in participating. For him, Bern is one gigantic bakery with various sweets waiting to be sampled. Very one-track-minded, my son. That and dinosaurs. We searched high and low for an appropriate dinosaur book...none of which ended up meeting his approval. We love Bern. It really is an extraodinary city.


We wrapped a bunch of veg (let's see: cabbage, cukes, carrot, cilantro, purslane, spring onions, and lime-avocado saucec) in rice paper...and let me tell was sooooo good. It felt like eating a salad, in a non-salad presentation. Coconut shakes for dessert, from young Thai coconuts. Please don't ask me how much young Thai coconuts go for in Switzerland. We are a long, long way from coconuts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

St. Martin's Day (Martinmas)

A day to commemorate St. Martin, said to have been a very kind man who lived a quiet, simple life. In Switzerland, children normally make lanterns out of radishes (or turnips?) and walk in a procession through the village singing lantern songs. Tonight we celebrated with Minouche, Alex's preschool, who decided to make lanterns out of something non-vegetal and hence sturdier for the 3-5 yr old crowd. After the little parade, we went inside and had herbal tea, pumpkin soup and cake. Very sweet....look how his jacket glows! Many people also use this occasion to donate unused toys and clothes, to honor the charitable spirit of St. Martin. I think we'll do that, too. We've got plenty to go around! Isn't this so much better than Halloween in principle? Don't worry, kids get to do costumes here, too...but for Fasnacht/Carnival...which is in February I think.

Monday, November 13, 2006


So the photos are from my in-laws' (both) 60th birthday party near Zurich yesterday. Nearly the entire family showed up from all corners of Switzerland. They rented a party room in a local cafe/restaurant and we had a full 4 course lunch, plenty of wine, and of course, karaoke...which even we were sucked into! Matthias and his cousin Yann started things off with a crowd-pleasing "Take Me Home Country Roads" and I sang a duet with the DJ "Brown-eyed Girl", no comment on my performance. Alex had a blast playing with cousins, dancing and getting constant cuddles. He was so wiped out from it all that he fell asleep one minute upon leaving. :-) And here endeth our birthday party marathon...


party a la Suisse

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dorf = village

We technically live in a village suburb of Bienne, although our apartment house is just across the city limits. This is the view from our post office...admittedly nothing special. I just bought a lottery ticket today for the 2nd time in my life (last week was the first). The EuroMillions lottery is at something like 250 million euros!!! I don't think you need to convert that to dollars to know it's A LOT (certainly enough to get us out of said suburban village!). As part of our larger efforts to manifest a trans-continental life for ourselves, we thought we'd give it a try! :-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

last birthday post, I promise!

The Earth travelled once around the sun and then our little Alex turned 1...and so forth. The kids at Minouche sang to him in 5 languages (our heads spinning) and then devoured the banana bread muffins we brought. We'd had enough cake by this time and this was only 10am. Have I mentioned that my baby is already 4 years old? Incredible.